For or against the new rule of the final super tiebreak in Grand Slam tournaments? This is how tennis players think

Full translation of Joel Drucker’s article published on on March 17, 2022

The past week has brought with it a great news in the tennis world; the ITF has in fact announced that all the decisive sets in the majors would end with a tiebreak at 10, starting from the next Roland Garros. Until now, however, each of the slam tournaments had entrusted the conclusion of the definitive sets to its own and personal rule (in Australia the super tiebreak, in France no tiebreak, in Wimbledon tiebreak 12 all, in New York classic tiebreak). Like any self-respecting change, this too is bound to arouse aversion among tennis purists, among the most traditionalist fans. However, we cannot fail to analyze the novelties and consequences of this change with a certain detachment and a hint of rationality. Taylor Fritz, fresh winner of the Indian Wells tournament, on his way to the final he won two consecutive games in the decisive tiebreak of the third set. The young American, who knows what it feels like in these situations, seems to have a clear opinion: “I think maybe it could be more exciting for the fans to see this kind of final tiebreaker.” he says about the new rule that will see slam tournament games ending with a 10-point tiebreaker. “But in a way I will also miss watching those games that go up to 20 all or 14 all. They are real battles. On the other hand it’s really terrible for players, because if you’ve played a game like that, you’ll be totally exhausted and unable to play the next match. So yeah, it’s tradition and I will miss seeing those battles on the pitch, but at the same time I think it’s a good thing for the fans and especially for the players to be able to move forward in the tournament. If in the future I happen to find myself in a similar situation, I will certainly be happy with this new rule ”.

Also during the Indian Wells tournament, after the victory against Opelka, in two sets both ended in a tiebreak, including Rafa Nadal dwells on the question. “Well, I don’t really care that much says the 21-time slam champion. “I honestly don’t have a clear opinion on that. I am neither for nor against. That’s how it was decided. Happy or not? I do not care. I honestly don’t think it will make such a big difference. I don’t think this rule will have a big impact on Roland Garros. In my opinion, the biggest impact will be at Wimbledon, where it is sometimes difficult to break and the games can get very long. But not at Roland Garros. Yes, sometimes you play a few more games, but it’s not like you normally arrive 22-20. On the other hand, in Wimbledon it can happen ”.

Also Dimitrov he offers us his point of view, after defeating John Isner 6-3 7-6 (6), not exactly a stranger to interminable fifth sets in the slams. “I think it’s great that way. It gives the opportunity to recover faster and there is more uniformity between the tournaments “” That’s good news “ says Tennis Channel commentator Martina Navratilova. “We’ve been saying for some time that it should have been done. There should be the same ending for all four tournaments ”. “It is a good thing” says Dean Goldfine, coach of Sebastian Korda. “It used to be quite unfair. It’s nice that you can see the end in a match ”. Talking about tiebreakers naturally triggered an investigation into what it takes to play them best.

Nadal, having just neutralized the dangerous Opelka, offered us an answer from which many players can learn something. “I can’t tell you” started. “I could make up a story, but honestly I don’t have a secret or a thing that I’m sure will work. I can tell you what I tried to do and that is, don’t let him play from a good position, especially on my serve. I tried to play with a high percentage of firsts, especially in tiebreaks, because if you start not to play first, you open up the possibility of responding strongly and the tie immediately slips out of your hands ”. “You try to put the ball back on the court, to find the right balance between not playing too aggressively, to avoid mistakes, and not playing too much in defense, because you know that he has a very good right and that he would go straight away. to seek the winner. Playing against someone like him is all about finding the right balance between taking risks and playing aggressive enough, but not too much, and not letting him play from comfortable positions. “

For Fritz it is important to pay attention to what happened in the previous 12 games. You played an entire match, and then you know what worked for you and you also understood what worked for your opponent. What you will want then is to keep away the things that worked for your opponent and dictate your game as much as possible, putting it in difficulty. A good part, therefore, is done by managing everything, like continuing to play your game and your strategy, managing your things, but at the same time understanding what your opponent is trying to do “. The flexibility of thinking shown by Nadal and Fritz on this occasion is a far cry from what happened when the tiebreaker was first introduced in 1970. At the time, many professionals were furious at this new “truncated” scoring approach. , especially since the inaugural tiebreak was a sort of “sudden death”, with the player who first reached 5 points victorious.

But first and foremost the goal was to create a more enjoyable experience for the fans. Indeed, as he said then US Open director Bill Talbert, “It is not the players who pay for match tickets”.

Translation by Claudia Marchese

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